Friday, February 18, 2011

Tahrir fills up again to celebrate victory and stress the need for more reforms

Again hundreds of thousands of Egyptians came to Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday to hold a nationwide ´Victory March´ to celebrate the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule one week ago, to protect the revolution and to remind the military rulers of the power of the street. Apart from that the rallies were also meant to be a memorial to the 365 people who died during the uprising.
Prayers were led by te well known muslim cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi from a podium in Tahrir Square. Al-Qaradawi returned to Egypt from Doha for the occasion. He praised the January 25 revolution, describing it as an "educated" one, which not only Mubarak´s regime, but also injustice and oppression. He praised the army's statements on democratic transition and asked them to liberate Egypt from Mubarak's cabinet. He appealed to the Egyptians to persevere with their revolution and to continue to build a new Egypt. He condemned the regime for being the source of sectarianism in Egypt while in ´here in Tahrir´, Christians and Muslims strove side-by-side for their revolution. Also he asked the ´brave Egyptian army´ to open the Rafah crossing so that Gazans can receive the supplies they need. And turning his attention to Arab leaders, he said: ´Don't fight history, you can't delay the day when it starts. The Arab world has changed.´

The Victory March was as much meant to stress the additional demands of the protesters, who have on their  agenda the abolishment of the 30-year-long state of emergency, the immediate release of all political prisoners, full freedom to form political parties and trade unions, and the formation of a national unity government of independents and technocrats that excludes the former ruling National Democratic Party. Several groups have also made demands for a completely new constitution, in stead of the change as proposed by the army of no more than six articles.
Many  recently formed groups have stressed these demands. One of the best known is the Youth Coalition of the Revolution (YCR) which combines the 6th of April movement, Freedom and Justice movement, Muslim Brotherhood youth, the Democratic Front Party youth, the Youth Movement in Support of El Baradei,  and the youth of the National Association for Change. Khaled Abdel Hamid of the RYC believes that they will continue to protest every Friday until their demands are met. He adds that the outbreak of labour strikes is keeping the revolution alive and driving it towards complete success.
Other groups are in the process of being formed. Labour activists have been very busy lately, following the spreading of the strikes and protests to almost every sector in Egypt, with demands for a new independent labour union and the abolishment of the existing pro-government union. Also a new leftist party is being formed, as an alternative to the Tagammu party.
Widely known Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah coordinates meetings for the newly formed "Professionals' coalition", which includes Doctors Without Borders, the 9 March University Professors Movement and Cinema Professionals, among others. He takes part in other initiatives as well and says “Most of these movements don’t work together, but when you see the documents and demands they come up with, you see they have a consensus on certain things like the immediate release of political prisoners, canceling the emergency law and a technocratic national unity government for at least nine months or a year until proper elections are held.”
A group of independent and politically-affiliated young people who participated in Egypt's 25 January revolution held a press conference at the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate on Thursday to announce the launch of  the "Union of the Youth Revolution" in an effort to establish a common position. This group includes young people from political parties such as the Progressive National Unionist Party, the New Wafd Party, the Tomorrow Party, the Egyptian Communist Party, and the New Left Party. Members are currently trying to establish contact with all political bodies and committees to have emerged during the recent uprising in hopes of forming a unified entity to represent the young people of the revolution. 

On Thursday three ex-ministers and steel magnate and imporant member of the ruling NRP, Ahmed Ezz,  were arrested, after having been qustioned during the past week. The prosecutor dealing with financial crimes said former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli, former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana, former Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz will be held for 15 days.
Mass prayer on Tahrir after Qaradawy´s sermon. (Picture Shadi Hamid)

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